Extreme Weather Application

The integration of weather forecast models and socio-economic data is key to better understanding of the weather forecast and its impact upon society. Whether the forecast is looking at a hurricane approaching land or a snow storm over an urban corridor, the public is most interested in how this weather will affect day-to-day activities, and in extreme events, how it will impact human lives, property and livelihoods. The GIS program at NCAR is developing an interactive web mapping portal pilot which will integrate weather forecasts with socio-economic and infrastructure data. This integration of data is essential to better communication of the weather models and their impact on society. As a pilot project, we are conducting a case study on hurricane Ike, which made landfall at Galveston, Texas on 13 September 2008, exerting winds greater than 70 mph. There was heavy flooding and loss of electricity due to these high winds. This case study is an extreme event, which we are using to demonstrate how the Weather Research Forecasts (WRF) model runs at NCAR can be used to answer questions about how storms impact society. We are integrating WRF model output with the U.S. Census and infrastructure data in a Geographic Information System (GIS) web mapping framework. In this case study, we have identified a series of questions and custom queries that can be viewed through the interactive web portal, such as who will be affected by rain greater than 5 mm/hr, or which schools will be affected by winds greater than 90 mph. These types of queries demonstrate the power of GIS and the necessity of integrating weather models with other spatial data to improve its effectiveness and understanding for society.

Participants: 

Jennifer Boehnert (NCAR/RAL)
Rebecca Morss (NCAR/MMM)
Julie Demuth (NCAR/RAL)

Funding: 

NCAR base. NCAR is sponsored by the National Science Foundation